KEEP READING TO THE END OH MY GOD
Thursday came, which meant it was time for another Berlin Spoken Word. I met my ol’ pal Michelle beforehand in a bright, artsy café in the depths of Neukölln for our weekly catch up. Harry came too, and we chatted about their adventures at Pornceptual the previous weekend. It’s funny. They’ve been here for maybe 14 months now, and nothing fazes them. When I asked how the night was, they simply said the music was crap. No mention of the fetishwear and group sex taking place all over the club.
I told Michelle it was odd that she talked about the music but didn’t mention the en masse fucking. She disagreed, and said sex is just normal. I agreed that sex is normal (I’m rather a big fan myself), but I maintain that simultaneously shagging two fishnet clad randoms in a techno warped nightclub surrounded by other skanking strangers is categorically Not Normal. I suppose, however, that anything can become the norm once you’ve experienced it enough times. I could be woken up every morning by the entire Real Madrid football team spitting on me as I lay in bed. After a couple of weeks, it’d simply become part of my morning routine.
I left the café eventually, hugging the guys goodbye, and set off for Victoria’s – the usual predrink hub, as it’s pretty much in the middle of mine and Dave’s.
I’m now going to use a cinematic trick to advance the story. The walk to Victoria’s is long and uneventful. Therefore, let us cut away to some general exposition, and let our blonde hero plod his way to Victoria’s flat. We will rejoin him shortly.
Now to quote Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings, and to unceremoniously quench the urgency of her words by applying them not to the war against an apocalyptic overlord, but to my own petty struggles in Berlin:
“The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true.”
You said it, Tolkien. Things are scary here, at the moment. I’m anxiously awaiting a phone call that will confirm whether I got the start-up job I have been interviewing for over the past two weeks. If I get it, I’m set. A great wage, a great job, a cool crowd to work with – my happy ending, the endless summer. If I don’t get it… begin the frantic hunt for any old work to keep me here. Bar jobs, unskilled work. The thing is, I don’t want to do that. I’ve been carefully building my career and working on my writing for years. To go back to customer service would be not just a step backwards, but a bloody leaping pirouette.
But I won’t be beaten. If I can’t make it work in Berlin, if I am doomed to fail, I’ll bloody well go down swinging. If I’m unsuccessful in my application for this job, I’ll be out in the streets, CV in hand. Pride can do one. If I can’t find a job and have to go home empty handed, I’ll make damn sure there was absolutely nothing else I could have done. So there we are: my Berlin Diaries may well be nearing their end, or they may just be beginning. By next week I’ll know for sure.
Now, I imagine that our protagonist, the past version of me, will nearly be at Victoria’s house. Let’s revisit him.
I rang the doorbell, armed with beers as usual. I’m not sure Vic has ever opened her flat door and not seen me outside it, grinning with arms full of bottles. We sat and partook in the usual pre-drinking ritual; talking rubbish and showing our favourite bands to each other, which we invariably hate. She likes happy summer indie rock, high treble guitars and singers with yelpy high-pitched voices and boys with lots of hair. Foals, Los Campesinos, etc. I like The Jam and The Clash and Billy Bragg and The Pogues and nothing remotely fashionable today.
My music taste is uncool, but not in the hipster, secretly cool way. It’s just uncool. I may be the only twenty-something in Berlin whose pre-drink tracks of choice mostly consist of angry 1980’s punk anthems about worker’s rights. The amount of times I’ve been booed off the aux cable at house parties is staggering. Now when people see me approach the speakers, I am swiftly rugby tackled before I can silence the whole room with yet another play of White Man At Hammersmith Palais and a 20 minute drunken lecture on the meaning of the song and Why It Is Good.
Dave turned up after a while, completing the magical trio, and we heated some mulled wine and smoked cigarettes on Vic’s balcony over the river before the biting Teutonic winds sent us teeth chattering back inside. We left for the poetry night that I’d been to the previous two weeks, Berlin Spoken Word.
WHILE WRITING THIS I HAVE HAD A VERY IMPORTANT PHONE CALL WHICH TOTALLY CHANGES EVERYTHING. I WILL QUICKLY SUMMARISE THE REST OF THE ARTICLE:
Berlin Spoken Word was alright but not great, Dave and I got smashed, drank a litre of vodka, went to a big house party thing organised by VICE, it was fun and packed but also kind of crap because the DJ was utter shite, a guy in a wheelchair kept running my toes over, we went back to Come Backpackers and had a cigarette on the roof with the guy on reception, Matt, I got a kebab, I ran 4 miles home because the U Bahn had stopped. Fun night.
Remember way back four or five paragraphs ago when I was saying about how the quest lies on the edge of a knife or whatever? WE GOOOOOOD, SON! I just had the phone call I was waiting for AS I WAS WRITING THIS – AND I GOT THE JOB!!!
I’m sorry but in this state of elation I’m afraid all literary norms and rules can fuck off.
I GOT THE JOB! I HAVE WON AT BERLIN! I WON’T STARVE! I CAN STAY HERE! I WILL SEE THE SUMMER! FUCK IT, ITS ALREADY SUMMER FOR ALL I CARE! SUMMER FOREVER! HOORAAAAAAAYYYYY!
I AM GOING TO WORK IN AN OFFICE WHERE THEY RIDE SCOOTERS THROUGH THE HALLS
FUCK EVERYTHING! I AM VICTORIOUS! OH MY DAYS!!!!!
HAVE A GREAT DAY EVERYONE I LOVE ALL OF YOU!!!
I’M OFF TO CELEBRATE!!!!!!!!!!!!